All of us make mistakes. How do we respond as a leader when we make one? I know tons of leaders, pastors included, who like to pretend the mistake never happened or if they are forced to acknowledge it, they tend to blame someone else for the error.
My son is proving to be an incredible leader. I recently observed him in one of these situations. Thankfully he handled it with class.
Please understand, in speaking of mistakes here I am not referring to moral failures. Those would need to be covered in another post. I’m writing about those mistakes that are made unintentionally or as an error of judgment. These are the things we do such as saying the wrong thing at the wrong time or fail to make a hospital or funeral home visit we should have made. The mistake could be criticizing people unjustly or failing to recognize someone for their accomplishments. In business this may be making an error judgment call that proves to be costly to the company. Nothing in your heart intended to make the error, but you did. How should a leader respond in those situations?
Here are my suggestions for handling a mistake:
Accept responsibility. Don’t pass blame to others if the fault is yours. Be willing to confess your errors. You aren’t perfect so don’t pretend that you are.
Don’t make excuses for your failure. If there are legitimate issues that need to be explained or lessons to be learned that’s one thing, but don’t try to excuse your mistake away.
Apologize quickly, humbly, and completely. Don’t say, “I’m sorry”, but then try to wrap the other person into your story. Simply apologize. You made a mistake.
Move forward. Regardless of whether forgiveness is given or not, once you have sincerely asked for forgiveness, move forward with the vision. Get back to leading.
Try to learn from your mistakes. The best lessons in my life have come from some of the mistakes I have made.
What suggestions do you have?